Waterfowl Hunting Gear
You need quite a lot of gear when hunting waterfowl. However, during the early season where temperatures vary between 40 and 80 degrees you can do with less gear. At this time of the year the birds are quite innocent so you can make do with a couple of dozen decoys as long as they appear realistic. If you lay them out properly you will have success.
If you are hunting teal take a dozen magnum decoys to get noticed as these will be spotted by the flocks flying high. You will naturally need a mix of puddlers such as mallards, widgeons and pintails. With another dozen or so teal decoys you can attract ducks in marshes, rivers or lakes. Try to mix in some blue-wings and green-wings. Arrange these in a classic fashion with an area for landing including the formations of Hooking J or wedge-shaped V for the early season. As long as there is a landing hole for the incomers you won’t need to be too precise. Teal will land close to other teal so set the teal decoys at the rear of the hole and you will have teal exactly where you want them and thereby increase your kill ratio in any hunting season.
Hunting the Puddles
If you are after puddlers you will need a couple of dozen mallard decoys. Again you will need a landing hole in the dekes. You may find the puddlers land out of range but leave the spread of decoys as they are and move closer to the landing zone. If this doesn’t prove too successful and the birds are avoiding your decoys, move further away from the blind to nab birds that are changing course. A distance of 50 to 100 yards should be sufficient. A few decoys, or lone pairs, placed on the fringes may help as this gives the impression that the decoys are trying to avoid the spread.
Hunting with Geese Decoys
With honkers you need the usual couple of dozen Canadian geese as decoys. You need to attract the attention of the birds so wave a flag to get them interested. Once the geese start approaching drop the flag. Depending on the wind use the A J pattern especially if the wind is blowing in a single direction. If the wind keeps changing direction then an X pattern will assist in covering any wind direction and the options the birds have for landing. On this occasion you need to place yourself in the hole created by the decoys but avoid using a blind. Your best policy is to use natural cover where you can hide yourself from view. Find somewhere to prop your head up, something like a roll of clothing or even your backpack is ideal as you need a low position but still able to see.
As you can see from the above you don’t need a huge amount of equipment in the early season. You are trying to attract the birds to land where you want them. Using the right decoy pattern for the species will make sure you have the best opportunities to land those waterfowl every hunting season.